A criminal record can be a massive burden for anyone to handle. Negative encounters with the law can leave a permanent mark in your legal file, and proof of a conviction can get in the way of almost every aspect of modern life. Being arrested can interfere with future job applications, home rentals and loan requests; fortunately, it may be possible for some individuals to completely eliminate any formal documentation of their crimes.
The options available directly depend on the circumstances of arrest. There are many factors involved in the litigation process, so this overview examines several different paths that people can take to expunge their criminal record and clear their name.
First off, eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Qualification for expunging is based on quite a few different circumstantial elements. For example, certain offenses simply cannot be expunged. A lot of jurisdictions do not allow felonies to be scrubbed from the record, which means eligibility only extends to misdemeanors in these regions.
Still, a person might not qualify for the process even if their crime fits into the legal parameters for expunging. Primarily, all sentences must be served before a judge will consider clearing the record. Being a juvenile can be helpful when it comes to facing the courtroom. Young defendants can always claim a bout of youthful indiscretion. In a similar vein, drug crimes are given a similar leeway if sobriety is showcased afterwards.
Once the decision is made to pursue an expunged criminal record, it is time to file a formal “Motion for Expungement.” An attorney can be helpful during this step, but their presence is not at all necessary. The paperwork is easy to fill out, and the hearings are very straightforward. Once the case has been presented, a judge will make the final decision. If a sound argument has been made showing improved behavior, the ruling should be favorable; otherwise, it is time to prepare an appeal!
Expungement is a wonderful legal tool that tightly seals access to a criminal record. It counts as a complete exoneration. Everyone that is granted this right can honestly proclaim the lack of any criminal history whatsoever. Still, some convicts can take self-advocacy a step further by demanding an overturned conviction. Earning a “Certificate of Actual Innocence” creates a legally binding agreement that states the record had no reason to exist in the first place. This symbolic gesture implicates that the authorities were committing an act of overzealous prosecution.
Ultimately, receiving court ordained evidence of innocence can take months or years. The bureaucratic system moves grindingly slow, so it mandates a ton of patience. Seeking the path towards redemption is an excellent starting point, but it takes a strong commitment to truly erase a criminal record. By following the advice above, exoneration can be attained. Just remember to stay cool, calm and collected. Maintaining this attitude while inside the courtroom will help ensure a smooth transition into total expungement.